Utilizing Interactive Technologies to Engage, Integrate, Involve, and Increase Community amongst College Students

Utilizing Interactive Technologies to Engage, Integrate, Involve, and Increase Community amongst College Students

Pamela M. Golubski (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-791-3.ch002
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Abstract

Retention in higher education is a forefront goal for most administration, staff, and faculty members. For this goal to be achieved, college professionals must go above and beyond to ensure students are engaged socially, successfully integrated into the campus community, and actively involved during college. When these interactions occur, students are more likely to experience a sense of belonging, as, evident from developmental research theories, an institution could experience an increase in overall retention rates. However, to achieve engagement, integration, involvement, and feelings of belonging, it requires staff and faculty members to offer and encourage continuous interactions with students, both inside and outside the classroom. While these interactions in the past usually happened through face-to-face methods, today, the Web 2.0 and virtual technological tools have extended opportunities for college professionals to interact more often with students. Two such virtual technologies are Google Wave and Wimba Collaboration Suite (Voice, Pronto, and Classroom).
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Retention Overview

Retention of students is a pinnacle goal for any higher education institution. This is most likely due to the fact that only approximately 58 percent of students who enter a four-year institution will persist to earn bachelor degrees within six years (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2009). If college administrators, staff and faculty members do not strive to make retention a priority, rates could continue to drop (Tinto, 1993). This means that staff and faculty members have to actively engage, integrate, involve, and increase social presence (socialization) of students during college. Research has found when these actions occur inside and outside the classroom a reduction in attritions rates is most often experienced by an institution. However, achieving student active engagement, integration, involvement, socialization, and sense of affinity/belonging to an institution requires staff and faculty members to offer and encourage continuous interactions with students. So the question becomes how can these interactions occur in an already over-scheduled, time deprived world? The answer might lie in utilizing and interacting with students through virtual technologies and tools. In order to better understand how to effectively interact effectively with students it is essential to first understand retention from a theoretical perspective.

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